“A great Shadow has departed.”
With these words, Gandalf reveals to Sam the success of his and Frodo’s quest to destroy the One Ring, the fall of the evil Sauron, and the liberation of Middle Earth. Joyful celebration ensues, Frodo and Sam are lauded as heroes, and they all live happily ever after.
Only, not quite. Instead, the penultimate chapter of The Lord Of The Rings, “The Scouring of the Shire,” sees Frodo and his Hobbit companions return to discover that their beloved homeland has been taken over by a band of ruffians and grifters under the command of a two-bit hoodlum named “Sharkey,” later revealed to be the wizard Saruman. Fittingly, the chapter begins with Frodo and friends encountering a newly constructed wall—in fact, a “great spiked gate.” They surmount it to discover their land befouled, its quaint villages vandalized, and the inhabitants turned against one another. In their own village of Hobbiton, a hideous new mill belches black soot into the sky.
But in the wake of the Biden-Harris triumph, I finally appreciate Tolkien’s prescience. For although our great battle is won and Donald Trump is defeated, all is far from well in our own Shire. We return to discover our public lands under siege, our infrastructure crumbling, our reputation besmirched, our social safety nets abused and in disrepair, and a pandemic raging unchecked.DailyKos What J.R.R. Tolkien can teach us about life after Trump